Nelly Bassily | October 6, 2008
In the village of Koutal, in the Kaolack Region of central Senegal, dairy farming is a collective activity. There are numerous communal herds, many of which are managed by women. Both the livestock and their milk products are highly valued in the community.
Oumou Khaïry Bâ is president of a women dairy farmers’ collective known as the Directoire régional des femmes en élévage. She explains that the group wanted to promote their products more widely in the Kaolack Region. To this end, the group obtained a pasteurization unit. Now, the group can transform its milk into products such as yogourt and curdled milk. Mrs. Bâ says that sales are going well, and the dairy farmers hope to open kiosks in the town of Kaolack to sell their milk and milk products.
This model of local dairy production stands in stark contrast to the large Chinese dairy companies that recently produced tainted milk. Chinese companies added the industrial chemical melamine to dairy products in order to make the protein content appear higher. To date, four children have died and more than 50,000 people have fallen ill in mainland China after drinking the tainted milk.
Around the world and throughout Africa, food regulators have been working to identify imported milk and milk products tainted with melamine. Retailers have been pulling Chinese milk and milk products off their shelves. While the scandal has shaken confidence in imported milk, some smaller-scale African milk producers are expanding their production.
In late September, as the extent of the Chinese tainted milk scandal was coming to light, Angola’s national dairy company launched a brand of local milk. One-litre containers of “Waku” milk are now on supermarket shelves in the Waku Kungo region of western Angola. The company stressed that this milk is made with high quality Angolan ingredients.
While the Angolan dairy sector is seeking to establish its domestic market, Kenya is struggling to keep up with demand. Kenya’s dairy industry has grown by 50 per cent over the past five years, as locals now consume more milk and export markets have expanded.
Machira Gichohi is managing director of the Kenya Dairy Board. He says the country faces a dairy shortfall of 450 million litres and will not be able to fill export orders. Mr. Gichohi explained that post-election violence hit the “milk pot” regions of Nyanza and Rift Valley and it may take years for dairy farmers to restore production levels.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on local dairy